Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the NEU, said:

“Deprivation is the hidden story of many of our coastal towns. Poor transport links and unaffordable or substandard housing compounds low wages. Available work is often seasonal work. This all contributes to a cycle of poverty amongst communities that is a hard trap for families to break out from. These realities also have an impact on children’s health and wellbeing and their access to education. The cost of the school day is considerable for low-income families, even before the advent of the cost-of-living crisis.

“Schools do all they can to overcome the difficulties faced by their students, but they cannot do it alone. The Government’s White Paper and levelling up agenda must include a strategy to reduce child poverty and a plan for high wage jobs and modernised transport in every region. 

“There are challenges in retaining staff and leaders in high poverty areas, but the new proposals in the White Paper threaten more of the same naming and shaming of schools which already causes staff to leave. Ofsted inspections penalise schools with disadvantaged intakes and don’t capture the value-added progress they achieve. It’s time to stop using Ofsted grades as a stick with which to beat schools, and learn from countries where inspection is fair, effective and supportive. This would generate high morale and good outcomes for pupils. 

“The levelling up agenda must be for the whole country. The specific problems facing coastal towns are not new, and schools work tirelessly to draw on local opportunities and employers for their children and young people. But without the infrastructure and investment, both in the community and in education funding, coastal areas will continue to struggle and children and young people will continue to miss out on opportunities.”


Note to editors

We are currently in Bournemouth for our Annual Conference (11-14 April), during which time you will receive a higher number of press releases than usual.  

The Conference Press Office can be reached on 07879 480 061. You can also email the press officer at  

Our conference agenda is available here

The hashtag for Annual Conference is #NEU2022 

  • The National Education Union stands up for the future of education. It brings together the voices of more than 450,000 teachers, lecturers, support staff and leaders working in maintained and independent schools and colleges across the UK, to form the largest education union in Europe. 
  • It is an independent, registered trade union and professional association, representing its members in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. 

The National Education Union is affiliated to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and Education International (EI). It is not affiliated to any political party and seeks to work constructively with all the main political parties.